How to resolve conflict in the workplace

Emma Crupi Category-01

Every organisation is made up of a plethora of amazing, quirky, and one-of-a-kind individuals. This means that the mix of different personalities can lead to team dysfunction, which can lead to workplace conflict. Conflicts are unavoidable in one’s daily life. When they occur, the goal is not to try to prevent them but to effectively resolve and manage them. 

As Elle Jordan, HR Advisor at hussetHR said, “Poorly managed conflict can have an unintended butterfly effect across the organisation.

“When we consistently and appropriately manage conflict, we foster a culture that embraces open and honest conversations, and we can address behaviour that misaligns with our corporate values and code of conduct before it escalates.”

Firstly, what is “conflict”?

Conflict is defined as a clash between individuals caused by a difference in thought processes, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements, and, in some cases, perceptions. 

What causes conflict?

disagree on how to meet their needs. It can be difficult to avoid conflict when different people work in the same organisation. 

Some common causes of conflict in the workplace are: 

  • poor communication. Every workplace relies on communication to complete tasks efficiently. Without clear and healthy communication, the workplace will begin to break down quickly. 
  • misunderstandings, especially in relation to policies and procedures. 
  • personal differences. 

Resolving conflict in the workplace 

Conflict can have both positive and negative effects on individual and team performance. The difference is determined by the employer’s ability to appropriately identify, confront, and resolve these conflicts. You will increase your success and the success of your organisation if you learn to handle conflict effectively. 

Failing to resolve conflict quickly can lead to many other challenges in the workplace, including:   

  • Bullying and harassment claims  
  • Tension among the team   
  • Demotivation   
  • Reduced productivity   
  • Tarnished culture   

As was already mentioned, when different people and personalities work together, conflict is unavoidable. Whether or not these conflicts have long-term negative effects on the workplace depends on the employer’s capacity to appropriately identify, address, and resolve them.  

At HussetHR, we advise either external coaching or a guided and informal approach to handling conflict in the workplace. 

Top 5 tips for conflict resolution

It is important to have a plan in place for when conflict does arise. hussetHR can assist you with creating a plan and documenting a thorough complaint and resolution process.  

In the meantime, here are five tips for successful conflict resolution: 

1. Act immediately

It is not ideal to wait for the employees to settle their disputes on their own. It is crucial that, as an employer or manager, you act as soon as you become aware of any tension or conflict between employees. 

At hussetHR, we often use the analogy of a balloon and a dripping tap. If a balloon is attached to a dripping tap, the balloon will slowly fill up and eventually explode. You must therefore shut off the water as early as possible. The balloon cannot be put back together after it explodes.  This is the same with conflict in the workplace: you must deal with it early on. Often, if you leave it until it’s too late, there is no way of fixing the issues in the workplace.

2. Meet with the involved parties

Meet with each of the parties separately to hear their side of the story and to reassure them that you are here to help. Make sure you actively listen to all parties when they tell you the details of the conflict. During this initial meeting process, it is crucial to take accurate notes of the events that have transpired from all parties and witnesses involved in the incident. 

Ensure all parties know that you are aware of the conflict and that you will work with them to help in the process of resolving it.  

3. Gather the facts & collaborate with the team on a solution

Resolving conflict without facts may temporarily alleviate the problem, but it will not solve it. It’s important to remember:

  • Never base your decisions on hearsay from the office.  
  • It is important that you have documented evidence of the conflict.  
  • Remove any bias or personal emotions. 

4. Establish a common goal

Every organisation needs to have a clearly defined common objective. Tensions are likely to develop because of uncertainty and instability if an organisation’s central goal is not confirmed and understood by the staff.

When discussing shared objectives in terms of team member conflict, this is also crucial for reaching a conflict resolution. A strong sense of purpose and meaning is created within a team when employees are brought together to work towards a specific objective. Making sure the parties involved in the conflict establish a shared objective for resolution by cooperating and treating one another with respect will help ensure they can grow and evolve away from the conflict.

5. Reiterate Acceptable Workplace Behaviour

Although it may seem easy, working ethically and professionally can be difficult for some. Unfortunately, some employees in the workplace do not understand what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable in a professional setting. Since different organisations have different standards and boundaries, it is not entirely their fault.

You must define and categorise what you classify as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour during onboarding and throughout employment to prevent lines from becoming blurred. This can be accomplished through annual training on acceptable workplace behaviour as well as policy and procedure manuals. The policies and classifications for things like bullying, harassment, theft, and dishonesty, among other things, can be reviewed during this training.

Additionally, you can lay out the expectations for how your staff should act and interact with one another, as well as the behaviours you will not tolerate. You may do this through a team meeting, or an acceptable workplace behaviour presentation.

hussetHR and conflict resolution

Having a HR advisor available to assist you with conflict resolution can be beneficial for your organisation.

At hussetHR, we empower managers and employers to make informed decisions and support them in achieving their organisation’s goals. We can assist with preparing for future workplace conflict resolution by implementing a range of procedures and policies.

We service a wide range of businesses that have benefited from our knowledge of conflict resolution, and we have assisted many employers in this area. hussetHR can also assist you in creating an appropriate complaints and resolution policy, provide support to managers, and develop a workforce safety plan.

When determining the optimal solution for your company, it is advisable to get experienced HR advice. hussetHR is always available via phone or email and ready to advise you on the best course of action.

Call us today at 1300 487 738